11 Stories and 11 Deals: Xconomy Wisconsin Quarter in Review

7/3/14Follow @XconomyWI

As everyone gets ready to kick back for a long holiday weekend, I figured it’s a good time to reflect on the biggest stories in Wisconsin’s tech and innovation community during the second quarter.

The recurring theme: funding. By my count, 11 Wisconsin startups raised a combined $32.2 million between April and June. Those are respectable, but not exceptional, stats for a state that only managed $128.3 million in total VC investments last year—the lowest here since $46 million in 2009. The second quarter VC performance gives Wisconsin a shot at surpassing last year’s mark, but it will need to maintain this pace, and will likely need a few big deals to come through in the second half of 2014.

I’ve listed the 11 deals below. But first, here are my picks for the top 11 local stories in the past three months, in chronological order:

1. BomBoard to Millennials: Get Your (Jet Ski) Motor Running

This 68-year-old entrepreneur has the need for speed, and he believes his new “kick-ass waterkart” is the jet ski the millennial generation didn’t know it wanted.

2. Wearing Two Hats, Resnick Pushes Tech Issues on Madison Council

Scott Resnick has risen to local prominence as an entrepreneur who champions tech causes on the Madison Common Council. Will the 27-year-old set his sights on the mayor’s office next?

3. Jalem Getz’s Latest Retail Startup Wantable Targets Women, Fast Growth

Milwaukee serial entrepreneur Jalem Getz dabbled in tech after selling his last company, but returned to his bread and butter—retail—with his latest startup.

4. Outside San Diego, Illumina Looks to Wisconsin for Key R&D

Big corporations’ acquisitions of startups don’t necessarily result in gutting or uprooting the company. Here’s one example where the parent is spending significant dollars to expand the acquired outpost.

5. Geppetto Avatars Melds Emotion of Disney, Smarts of KITT

We’re years away from intuitive virtual assistants on par with Samantha from the film “Her.” This Milwaukee startup wants to move fiction closer to reality.

6. Milwaukee-based SpotHopper Wants to Be Pandora For Watering Holes

Given Milwaukee’s heritage, I’d be remiss to go a quarter without a beer-tech story. Here’s my review of a new barhopping and drink-searching mobile app. Please read responsibly.

7. Madison’s Tech Future: 5 Ways It Could Succeed, 5 Ways It Could Fail

This one was a talker. I sift through the hype to lay out Madison’s prospects for becoming a national tech hub.

8. American Family Ventures Exits Stealth Mode, Builds National Portfolio

Close observers know that American Family Insurance has quickly become arguably the most active corporation in Wisconsin’s startup scene, but the insurer’s VC arm avoided the limelight until recently.

9. Lessons From Serial Entrepreneur Brian Wiegand, A WI Exit Master

Brian Wiegand is among Wisconsin’s most prolific serial entrepreneurs. But so far, one accomplishment has eluded him.

10. Wellntel Aims to Sprout Groundwater Info Market With Sonar Device

Groundwater monitoring grows more crucial every year, as the population increases and the climate changes. This ambitious Milwaukee startup wants to solve that problem, while creating a new industry built on groundwater data.

11. Steve Wozniak on Galaxy Gear, Google Glass, & Future of Wearables

The Woz stopped by Milwaukee, and I asked what he thinks about smartwatches. His candid disdain for the Samsung Galaxy Gear helped this piece go viral.

And now, Wisconsin’s second quarter VC deals in chronological order. (If I missed any, please let me know in the comments section).

1. EatStreet, $6 million

2. The Good Jobs, $350,000

3. Aver Informatics, $8.5 million

4. PerBlue, $3 million

5. FluGen, $3.4 million

6. Fishidy, $1.5 million

7. Montage Talent, $6 million

8. Wellbe, $425,000

9. Kiio, $680,000

10. Thalchemy, $650,000

11. StudyBlue, $1.7 million

Jeff Engel is the editor of Xconomy Wisconsin. Email: jengel@xconomy.com Follow @XconomyWI

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